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Home ▸ Catalog ▸ |Themes & Provenance| ▸ |Types| ▸ |Astronomy||View Options:  |  |  | 

Astronomy on Ancient Coins
Antiochia, Pisidia, 2nd - 1st Century B.C.

|Pisidia|, |Antiochia,| |Pisidia,| |2nd| |-| |1st| |Century| |B.C.||tetrassarion|
Antiochia in Pisidia, also know as Antiochia in Phrygia, and under the Roman Empire as Antiochia Caesareia or Antiochia Colonia Caesarea, was on the border of Pisidia and Phrygia, at the crossroads of the Mediterranean, Aegean and Central Anatolian regions. After the death of Alexander the Great, Seleucus I Nicator, founder of the Seleucid Dynasty, took control of Pisidia. Captured places were Hellenised and, in order to protect the population, nearly 60 fortified cities were founded at strategically important places, usually on an acropolis. Seleucus gave 16 of them the name of his father Antiochos. Colonists were brought from Magnesia on the Maeander to found Antiochia in Pisidia.
GB92188. Bronze tetrassarion, Imhoof KM p. 108, 5; SNG Cop 12 var. (magistrate); SNGvA 4914 var. (same, ethnic around), VF, green patina with earthen highlighting, weight 6.268 g, maximum diameter 21.3 mm, die axis 180o, Antiochia in Pisidia (near Yalva็, Turkey) mint, 2nd - 1st century B.C.; obverse eagle standing slight right on thunderbolt, wings open, crescent above, Γ (mark of value) lower right; reverse star of six rays around central pellet, ANTIO/ΞE-ΩN in two lines, ΘEAPI∆O (magistrate's name) below; ex Gerhard Rohde Ancient Coins; extremely rare; $160.00 (€147.20)
 


Thessalonika, Macedonia, c. 54 - 68 A.D.

|Thessalonika|, |Thessalonika,| |Macedonia,| |c.| |54| |-| |68| |A.D.||AE| |16|
Thessalonica was founded around 315 B.C. by Cassander, King of Macedonia, on or near the site of the ancient town of Therma. He named it after his wife Thessalonike, a daughter of Philip II and a half-sister of Alexander the Great. In 168 B.C. it became the capital of Macedonia Secunda and in 146 B.C. it was made the capital of the whole Roman province of Macedonia. Due to its port and location at the intersection of two major Roman roads, Thessalonica grew to become the most important city in Macedonia. Thessalonica was important in the spread of Christianity; the First Epistle to the Thessalonians written by Paul the Apostle is the first written book of the New Testament.
GB92061. Bronze AE 16, Touratsoglou G.I/A; RPC I 1607 (13 spec. online); SNG Hunterian I 682; McClean 3776; AMNG III taf. XXIII, 23; BMC Macedonia -; SNG Cop -; SNG ANS -, aVF, green patina, tight flan, weight 4.078 g, maximum diameter 16.0 mm, die axis 180o, Thessalonika (Salonika, Greece) mint, reign of Nero(?), c. 54 - 68 A.D.; obverse horse trotting right, crescent with horns upward above, star below raised foreleg; reverse ΘEΣ/ΣAΛON/IKEΩN in three lines within laurel wreath; ex CHS Basel Numismatics; very rare; $140.00 (€128.80)
 


Kingdom of Pontus, Mithradates VI, c. 120 - 63 B.C.

|Pontic| |Kingdom|, |Kingdom| |of| |Pontus,| |Mithradates| |VI,| |c.| |120| |-| |63| |B.C.||AE| |18|
The star almost certainly depicts one of Mithridates comets. According to Justin's epitome of the Historiae Philippicae of the Augustan historian Pompeius Trogus (Justin 37.2.1-2): "The future greatness of this man [Mithridates Eupator] had been foretold by heavenly portents. For both in the year in which he was born [134/133 B.C.] and in the year in which he first began to rule [120/119 B.C.], a comet gleamed so brightly for 70 days throughout each period that the whole sky seemed to be on fire. In its extent, each of these comets filled one quarter of the sky and surpassed the sun in brilliance. They took four hours to rise and four hours to set."
GB92048. Bronze AE 18, cf. SNG BM Black Sea 980; SNG Stancomb 645; SNG Cop 230, HGC 7 314 (S), VF, green patina, weight 4.930 g, maximum diameter 17.9 mm, Amisos(?) mint, c. 120 - 100 B.C.; obverse bashlyk (Persian satrap's leather cap with flat top and ear flaps), bow on left pointed right, monogram(?) on right, facing horned bust of Pan below; reverse comet or star of eight rays, bow on right facing inward; scarce; $125.00 (€115.00)
 


Kingdom of Pontus, Mithradates VI, c. 120 - 63 B.C.

|Pontic| |Kingdom|, |Kingdom| |of| |Pontus,| |Mithradates| |VI,| |c.| |120| |-| |63| |B.C.||AE| |22|
The star almost certainly depicts one of Mithridates comets. According to Justin's epitome of the Historiae Philippicae of the Augustan historian Pompeius Trogus (Justin 37.2.1-2): "The future greatness of this man [Mithridates Eupator] had been foretold by heavenly portents. For both in the year in which he was born [134/133 B.C.] and in the year in which he first began to rule [120/119 B.C.], a comet gleamed so brightly for 70 days throughout each period that the whole sky seemed to be on fire. In its extent, each of these comets filled one quarter of the sky and surpassed the sun in brilliance. They took four hours to rise and four hours to set."
GB89059. Bronze AE 22, SNG Stancomb 651, SNG BM Black Sea 976, SNG Cop 230, HGC 7 311 (S), F, dark patina, weight 10.131 g, maximum diameter 21.7 mm, Amisos(?) mint, c. 120 - 100 B.C.; obverse bow case with strap; countermark: helmet right(?) in a c. 5.5mm diameter round punch; reverse comet or star of eight rays, bow right facing inward; ex Ancient Imports (Marc Breitsprecher); scarce; $115.00 (€105.80)
 


Septimius Severus, 9 April 193 - 4 February 211 A.D., Nikopolis ad Istrum

|Nikopolis|, |Septimius| |Severus,| |9| |April| |193| |-| |4| |February| |211| |A.D.,| |Nikopolis| |ad| |Istrum||assarion|
There are peculiarities about these Roman crescent and star reverse types that are difficult to understand. First, the crescents are almost always depicted with the horns up. The moon is never seen this way in the sky. Also, in the sky stars are never visible within the horns of the crescent moon because there they would be behind the shadowed yet solid and opaque orb. The crescent with horns up may represent a solar eclipse.
RP92881. Bronze assarion, H-H-J Nikopolis 8.14.48.37 (R2), Varbanov I 2474 var. (obv. leg.), AMNG I/I 1432, Moushmov 986, gVF, green patina, slightly off center, scratches, spot of corrosion on reverse, weight 2.928 g, maximum diameter 16.6 mm, die axis 180o, Nicopolis ad Istrum (Nikyup, Bulgaria) mint, 9 Apr 193 - 4 Feb 211 A.D.; obverse AY K Λ CEVHPOC, laureate head right; reverse NIKOΠOΛITΩN ΠPOC IC, five stars above and within crescent with horns upward; $70.00 (€64.40)
 


Pontos (Uncertain City), c. 119 - 100 B.C.

|Pontos|, |Pontos| |(Uncertain| |City),| |c.| |119| |-| |100| |B.C.||AE| |11|
The comets depicted are almost certainly the comets described in Justin's epitome of the Historiae Philippicae of the Augustan historian Pompeius Trogus (Justin 37.2.1-2): "The future greatness of this man [Mithridates Eupator] had been foretold by heavenly portents. For both in the year in which he was born [134/133 B.C.] and in the year in which he first began to rule [120/119 B.C.], a comet gleamed so brightly for 70 days throughout each period that the whole sky seemed to be on fire. In its extent, each of these comets filled one quarter of the sky and surpassed the sun in brilliance. They took four hours to rise and four hours to set."
GB89134. Bronze AE 11, SNG BM 984; SNG Stancomb 653; Lindgren III 154; HGC 7 317, VF, earthen deposits, weight 2.328 g, maximum diameter 11.2 mm, Pontos, uncertain mint, c. 119 - 100 B.C.; obverse horse-head right, with comet star of eight points and central pellet on and below neck; reverse comet star of seven points, central pellet, and tail to right; rare; $60.00 (€55.20)
 







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